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Emma: Bright Shane Waldron fits well as Bears’ offensive coordinator

1 month agoChris Emma

One of the brightest minds in football, Sean McVay knows the right characteristics to identify in his coaching staff. It’s no coincidence his disciples have found success of their own.

McVay recognized such potential in a young assistant he worked alongside in Washington back in 2016. That was Shane Waldron, an offensive quality control coach at the time, whom McVay brought with him to the Rams a year later – then twice promoted him over four seasons in Los Angeles. McVay then allowed Waldron the opportunity to move on and establish himself elsewhere – as he has done with rising assistants seeking career advancement – as he was hired by the Seahawks as offensive coordinator.

The Bears have identified Waldron as their new offensive coordinator and are set to hire him to that position, sources said. The 44-year-old Waldron will replace Luke Getsy, who was fired on Jan. 10, taking the lead in overseeing Chicago’s offense alongside defensive-minded head coach Matt Eberflus.

Waldron was only available to hire as Pete Carroll stepped down as the Seahawks’ head coach this month. He was one of the first candidates targeted by the Bears and considered one of the leading offensive coordinators available in his hiring cycle.

“Love Shane,” said one league source who knows Waldron’s work. “Smart. Flexible. Situationally sharp. 

“He is a good fit regardless of the direction (at quarterback) and he can build on the run game success there.”

In hiring Waldron, the Bears allowed themselves scheme continuity on offense. He leads the outside-zone running system that has become prominent in the NFL, with its roots coming from Mike Shanahan and since evolved by innovative offensive minds like son Kyle Shanahan (49ers) and McVay. Given how the Bears have scouted and established personnel on offense for this system – and on the offensive line in particular – Waldron’s scheme fit is especially important.

But Eberflus and the Bears were open minded in casting a wide net for this search. They interviewed nine known candidates, including Greg Roman and Kliff Kingsbury who would each bring a different style of offense. 

As Eberflus promised, the Bears did not make their offensive coordinator hire specific for the looming decision at quarterback. Waldron wasn’t tabbed as a direct fit for three-year starter Justin Fields or prized quarterback prospect Caleb Williams (USC), the projected No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. He was simply the candidate best suited for this role.

Waldron has coached quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and offensive line during his career, offering him a fundamental understanding of each position and it’s fit within his offense. He has worked under future Hall of Fame coaches like Bill Belichick, McVay and Carroll, gaining a foundation for what it takes to win. In 2022, he helped quarterback Geno Smith go from journeyman backup to a Pro Bowl player and Comeback Player of the Year, all while the Seahawks reached the playoffs.

In leading the Bears’ offense, Waldron will be tasked with developing the team’s next quarterback, enhancing the scheme that was previously in place and unlocking the explosive game. Waldron’s responsibility is critical to Eberflus, whose background is on defense.

Eberflus now must round out the Bears’ staff on offense, hiring a quarterbacks coach and wide receivers coach. Waldron will almost certainly have input on those two decisions. The Bears will also need to hire a defensive coordinator, though that role is more of a complementary position given Eberflus’ firm grasp of the defense.

With Waldron entering the fold, the Bears now have clarity for their grand plans to come on offense.

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